Chapter 33 – “Seas On, Off the Witch”
December 31, 1973 – Harold Roarke’s yacht, 46 miles off the east coast, Atlantic Ocean
Roarke caught himself pacing. It was not the kind of thing he liked to show, especially to his formidable clientele.
It was one such person who, Roarke realized, was much of the reason for his impatience. Unlike the Russians and the Chinese (who he just had to get drunk to get them to loosen up and have good time), Nema did not drink. Nema did not laugh. Nema did not have a good time. In fact, Nema did not even eat very much. He watched. He listened. He learned.
Roarke hated men he could not control. But he knew, at least for now, he had little to fear from Nema. As head of the Iranian secret police, he had a great deal to thank Roarke for. He had after all, shown him how to make an assassination appear to be a heart attack. That had proven useful to Nema’s boss, the Shah, when it came to removing anyone the populace might consider as a replacement for his highness.
As annoying as Roarke might find the rough, unrefined attitudes of many of the other guests, he preferred it to Nema’s damnable piercing gaze. And so it was he found himself waiting for the loudest, rudest, most brutal of them all: Idi.
Roarke had supplied Idi with all he needed to depose the former president of Uganda. He had also put him in touch with certain individuals from Langley who had learned the trade of persuasion through extreme discomfort from documents covering the debriefing of captured nazis after WWII. He shuddered to think what Amin must have gotten up to after they and their British counterparts spent a few weeks training his people in the art of prolonging agony.
Amin had, however, refused Roarke’s offer to sell him a submarine and had gone instead with a Chinese sub because it was less expensive. Roarke had tried to explain that quality and reliability mattered, American made, and all that.
Idi was a cheap, black bastard. But he filled a quiet room with energy and noise, which was how Roarke liked it. He could offer Idi any new toy and he would dive in without hesitation provided it’s use was sufficiently twisted or novel enough to instill fear in the populace. The result of that had been that the others would follow suit, and Roarke made more money selling them whatever it was, a new assault rifle, tank, torture device, etc. It was fine therefore that he secretly sold it to the Ugandans on a secret fifty percent discount. It was a commission for the dictator’s help. Idi seemed like a complete madman when he got to having a good time, but he hadn’t gotten to his position failing to notice opportunity. Idi knew how valuable he was to Roarke, had noticed the trend almost as quickly as Roarke had.
Sometimes the craziness had cost Roarke a bit more as well. Idi had disliked the furniture layout in the ship’s main hall and had dumped some very fine imported couches into the Atlantic. The Chinese intel and military entourage had found that so funny that they joined him. All told, that had cost him six figures.
The world was run by clowns.
Roarke had been upset at first, but realized it meant he had to keep his guests entertained better so they wouldn’t allow their bestial instincts to turn toward their surroundings. He needed to stay on his toes and somehow top himself every time they got together for business, drinking and fun. They rarely, if ever, even visited the torture rooms below deck anymore. Roarke figured they got enough of that at home.
But now Idi was late. Had the Chink sub just sank? Developed mechanical problems? Or was he following some mad whim, about to pop up any second and shout—
“Harold! Hahaha!!! How are you my friend?”
Apparently it was the latter. Roarke relaxed but that goddamn Iranian noticed. Idi was standing on top of that cheapo submarine just off starboard.
“Welcome! Wait until you see what I have for you this time, Idi!”
“Oh, no, my friend. Wait until you see what I brought you! A little fish that was swimming too close to your boat, yes?”
A pair of Ugandan guards dragged a man above deck. The man was dressed in a black diving suit. His gear was stripped from him but Roarke could see a single large eye painted on the front. Idi was holding the man’s helmet. It looked like something out of Jules Verne. It was shaped like a head of an octopus. No, a squid. The Squid had the courage to make eye contact with Roarke.
Good. It would be fun breaking him.
He also had some kind of listening device. A spy dressed like it was Halloween. Wrong holiday.
“He looks familiar… Well, come aboard. We have much to discuss.”
He could kiss that crazy monster. He had not only caught one of those costumed imbeciles with a misguided concept of justice, but made a dramatic entrance for his other guests and provided some fun for the New Year’s celebration.
Roarke smiled into Nema’s stony face. It was all going to work out fine.
©2011 Christopher C. Knall